Cooking Channel readers, meet quesitos. These wonderful little pastries are sold at bakeries throughout Puerto Rico, eaten most often at breakfast alongside a cup of coffee. The cigar-shaped treats are filled with sweetened cream cheese and various fruits, like guava paste, passion fruit and, as used here, pineapple. The tangy-sweet fruit surrenders to its sugary side when sauteed with butter, brown sugar and vanilla, making the quesitos taste even more decadent. They’re beautiful in a shabby-chic kind of way, nothing fussy — just rustic goodness with a generous dusting of powdered sugar. The best thing is that you can whip them together in about 10 minutes and instantly satisfy your craving for something sweet. But piled high on a platter, they just as easily translate into a beautiful dessert for spring entertaining.
Continue Reading Pineapple Quesitos: A Spring Breakfast (or Dessert) Treat
Some people are just better at celebrating holidays. In Puerto Rico, the season starts after Thanksgiving and goes through Christmas and Three Kings Day to the Octavas and Octavitas, a religious observance that extends the celebration through mid-January. The Fiestas de la Calle de San Sebastián caps it all off over the course of three days in Old San Juan. Friends will show up at loved ones’ houses singing and playing music, like Christmas caroling but with maracas, güiros and cuatros.
It’s common during these celebrations to make large batches of pasteles. Similar to tamales, pasteles are a combination of grated green unripe bananas called guineos, plantains and either yautia or yuca, blended to make a masa seasoned with achiote oil. The filling — pork, ham or chicken simmered in a sofrito of peppers and onions, then mixed with garbanzos, olives, capers and raisins — is tucked into the prepared dough and wrapped in plantain leaves. Once the pasteles are filled and wrapped, they can be frozen, then steamed or boiled just before serving so they’re ready to welcome anyone who may turn up at your door.
Pasteles Puertorriqueños: Puerto Rican Tamales Recipe
Continue Reading Puerto Rican Pasteles: Tamales for the Holidays
While there are countless ways to celebrate the season, there seems to be a general consensus that sweetened milk, enriched by egg yolks, and spiked with spirit, preferably bottled, is a good idea.
Eggnog may have originated in England, but Mexican convents have perfected it as rompope, Cubans have their own sugary version called crema de vie, and Puerto Ricans took the usual blend and infused it with coconut to make coquitos. Though simple enough to make with canned or creamed coconut, there’s a unique satisfaction to cracking open your own coconut, grating the meat, blending in the rum and extracting the flavor directly from the source. Creamy and sweet, the coconut adds a smoothness that sets it apart from heavier custard-in-a-glass alternatives and brings a taste of island life to the holidays. In Puerto Rico, where the parties and observances start early and can continue well into January, there’s always an excuse for just one more.
Continue Reading Coquitos, or Puerto Rican Eggnog